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Wednesday April 6, 2005 - 07:18:08 GMT

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Dollar rally runs out of steam after hitting peaks

The dollar's rally stalled on Wednesday as traders locked in gains after the currency hit a five-month high against the yen and a two-month peak versus the euro the previous day.

The dollar rose to 108.90 yen on Tuesday, its highest level since Oct. 19 and up more than 5 percent in less than a month on hopes that the Federal Reserve might boost the pace of its credit tightening to nip inflation at the bud.

But the perception that the rally may have gone too far too fast prompted traders to take profits, especially after Fed chief Alan Greenspan did not mention the threat of inflation when he talked about soaring oil prices late on Tuesday.

By 05h54 GMT, the euro fetched around $1.2875, up a tad from late New York trade. It hit a two-month low of $1.2800 on Tuesday, according to electronic trading platform EBS.

The dollar bought around 107.95 yen, down 0.2 percent and near the day's low of around 107.90 yen.

Dealers said dollar-selling picked up a touch after the Bank of Japan kept its ultra-loose monetary stance unchanged, but said that the decision was not unanimous, the first split-vote since January 2004.

Still, most in the market expect no rise in Japanese interest rates for at least another year, and see the dollar staying well supported by its status as the only major currency whose rates are expected to rise significantly this year.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) kept its key rate steady on Wednesday, while both the European Central Bank and the Bank of England are expected to maintain their policies on Thursday. The biggest mover on Wednesday was the Australian dollar.

The Aussie dipped to just above Tuesday's two-month low of 76.28 U.S. cents after the RBA held rates at 5.5 percent, wrong footing many who had expected a rate rise. It later sprung back to around 76.55, erasing half its losses.

Some dollar bulls were disappointed after Greenspan did not voice concern about inflation when he discussed the impact of oil prices on the U.S. economy.

The Fed chief said that energy market developments would "remain central" to the long-run health of the economy, but that as prices rise the economy's dependence on energy would lessen.

Some economists said worries over U.S. inflation may be overdone and that soaring oil prices may actually stifle growth.

Greenspan speaks for a second time this week when he testifies on regulatory reform of government-sponsored enterprises before the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday.

The Fed has raised rates by a quarter percentage point seven times since June, boosting its base lending rate to 2.75 percent and helping to suppress worries about large and growing U.S. fiscal and current account deficits.


EURO/DOLLAR: The euro has held the initial test of key support at $1.2810/1.2715 (February low and long term Fibo). The market is slightly oversold but the rebound from here is expected to remain tepid and fail at $1.2960/1.3065 to leave the market back under pressure. Failure at $1.2715 is favored longer term.


DOLLAR/YEN: The dollar has not sustained its initial break higher and the move has not been confirmed by the technical signals. We would allow for a minor pullback while the market absorbs recent gains. Dips are expected to remain well supported at 107.65/20 and while above here immediate focus will remain for further gains to 109.70/85 and then 112.05/50.


DOLLAR/SWISS FRANC: The dollar is stalling at significant resistance at 1.2160/1.2265. While not particularly surprised to see this hold the initial test, a break above here is favored longer term and will confirm a long term reversal pattern with a 1.3750 upside measured target. Nearby support lies at 1.2000/1.1980 and key support at 1.1875/00. While above here our outlook will remain bullish.


STERLING/DOLLAR: Sterling basically consolidated sideways yesterday. The market has recently failed at the $1.8980 100 day moving average and while capped here, our negative bias will remain intact. We look for a slide to the $1.8595 recent low and then $1.8510 February low. Failure here would complete a substantial top and target $1.7475/1.7300 longer term.

No U.S.  Data due today


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